COLUMN: Border crisis highlights failures of U.S. leadership

Published 11:32 am Friday, September 10, 2010

Part two of two. In Part 1, Wayne Goodnature described the dangers of drug smuggling and human trafficking that have effectively closed portions of southern Arizona to the public, and the lax border security that has made it possible for potential terrorists to enter the country.


The situation in southern Arizona is so grim that citizens have taken up arms and are starting to defend the border themselves sometimes with deadly force. Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever announced in early August 2010 that the U.S. Border Patrol had pulled back from the border, saying that some areas are too dangerous for its agents to enter. The sheriff also said that the Border Patrol’s pull-back was, in part, because of a desire to not create a national incident between the U.S. and Mexico.

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In July the Arizona Citizens Militia, a civilian group, announced on its web site that a confrontation with six armed, uniformed men crossing the U.S. Mexico border with AK-47s and AR-15 machine guns had ended in two killed and at least three wounded. A related interview by American journalist Michael Webster with the “commander” of the Los Zetas paramilitary group indicated that all six were, in fact, mercenaries for the Zetas. These men were smugglers from the Los Zetas cartel who had earlier announced that they would kill any armed Americans they encountered in the desert. The militia felt justified in their actions and without hesitation vowed to keep up their patrols of the area. In fact, the militia has announced that in late September it will launch Operation Sentinel, a border militia operation involving volunteers from across American who will arrive in Arizona fully armed and ready for confrontations with any drug runners or smugglers who attempt passage onto American soil.

Many in Arizona and throughout the Nation are critical of militia groups, calling them nothing more than armed mobs of vigilantes. However, the authority for militias to organize, train and then act is embedded in our constitution by our founding fathers. The United States Supreme Court, in two very recent cases, wrote extensively about the history of militias and their relevance to modern America. The Supreme Court justices clearly believes that militias can organize, train and act under certain circumstances. They point out that the founding fathers of our nation did not trust big government or standing armies, and wanted citizen militias to stand as a deterrent. The court spoke of the militias’ authority under the 2nd Amendment as being our country’s doomsday provision. When all else has failed, militias are duty-bound to take back our freedom from a tyrannical government and help alter or replace it. U.S. Government laws define what citizens can become members of a militia. In short, the definition includes most if not all able-bodied Americans.

I am not suggesting that we, as a country, are at the doomsday point. However, we are closer than we have been since the American Revolution. The United States of America is managed by one president, 435 congressmen and 100 senators; they are the responsible authority, and none other. Their collective conduct has put our republic in jeopardy for a very long time. Many Americans feel trapped in an endless national nightmare of dysfunctional decisions based on power, influence, and money.

Our sacred charge as American citizens is to hold to those God-given, unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those rights were willed us by our forefathers and by the deaths of American patriots who have given their lives in defense of ours. We have not been living up to that charge. In many critical ways our government is turning on us, and the institution we are duty bound to control is rapidly becoming our enemy. Our government was heavily complicit in the ruin of our economy and the destruction of millions of our citizens’ ability to hold onto their most valued possessions, their job and home. They are forever involving us in deadly conflicts where we are neither wanted nor appreciated. Our sovereign borders are being overrun by a relative small band of murderous, armed thugs. With eyes wide open our government allows the murderers of our soldiers and citizens, Al-Qaida, to smuggle terrorists into our homeland.

We have thousands of trained armed Border Patrol agents, state and federal law enforcement officers, and military personnel at the ready. Yet our government remains frozen because our president, senators, and representatives will not work together to find a solution. The consequences for our entire country, if we let these atrocities continue, are nothing short of complete ruin. It is time for “We the People” to take charge, and take back our republic.

How can we as a collective republic alter or change our government so that it once again will serve as the managers of our freedom? The Declaration of Independence is the birth certificate of our nation and established the basis for rights that are inherent for every citizen of the United States. In doing so the declaration established our basic right to alter or abolish our system and to institute a new government. It even tells us what conditions should exist before we should act against our government. The Constitution and Bill of Rights spell out the specifics of what were to be the rights of the people and the power of the government. Since a change of the establishment of government has only occurred once in our history, how do we proceed? Do we keep using the election process we have in place, or has it stopped working? Do we use the militia process and begin a revolution like our founding fathers did? Do we sit and do nothing and hope the system will eventually adjust itself? What are the future consequences if we continue to do nothing?

Wayne Goodnature was Mower County’s sheriff from 1979 until 1995. He now lives in Arizona. His e-mail address is